I was having a pretty good Friday. Thursday night, Apotheosis killed the Twilight Ascendant Council, so I was feeling pretty good going into Friday. In the afternoon, a friend called me up and we made plans to get dinner and a movie. While at dinner, I discover that my best friend gave birth to her second child earlier in the day. It was a great Friday.

I got home and see this:

Beacon of Light no longer triggers from Light of Dawn.

(Source: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2259389)

(Please note that this change was reverted. You can read more about it here at Kurn’s Corner: Post 1, Post 2.)

For those holy paladins who made frequent use of this mechanic, this is a crippling blow to their healing numbers and their overall style of healing that has had a few months to develop.

Kurn, slow down. What the hell are you talking about?

Right, sorry. Let me talk about the style a little bit before I explain how this change deserves the term “crippling blow”.

In Cataclysm (and since the 4.0 patch), holy paladins have had two real methods of healing.

Method 1: Beacon a target (likely a tank) and heal the beacon directly, making use of Tower of Radiance to build up holy power in order to use spells like Word of Glory and Light of Dawn.

Method 1 is close to old-school healing and paladins still do really well when it comes to single-target healing. The major difference between this style and Wrath-style healing is that we are generally beaconing the target we are directly healing. Since 4.0, Beacon of Light has only transferred 50% of our heals (including overheals) to our beaconed target, so it’s not as though we can heal one target and beacon another and not have to worry about the beaconed target any longer. No more “set it and forget it” healing when we have a second target to heal, especially if it’s a tank. In current content, I’m pretty sure I can’t keep two tanks up all by myself. And that’s okay. I can still mostly keep one tank up on my own.

Method 1 is my preferred style. I’ve spent my whole WoW career focused on healing single targets and tanks. This is what feels comfortable to me. It’s also fairly clear that Blizzard intends for us to do things this way because of the very existence of the Tower of Radiance talent.

Method 2: Beacon a target (likely a tank) and heal the raid, making use of Holy Shock and likely Blessed Life procs and possibly using Crusader Strike (or, on occasion, directly healing the beacon if you’re even specced into Tower of Radiance, which you may not be!) to get Holy Power in order to cast Light of Dawn (preferably glyphed) to heal the living crap out of the beacon target, while doing some moderate raid healing.

In this way, you are still doing a great deal of healing to the beacon target, but the heals tend to spike; low heals here and there, then a big spike when you get 3 holy power for a Light of Dawn.

Here’s an example of some heals my fellow holy paladin cast during one of our recent raids, with some annotations to show where the beacon heals are coming from and where the holy power is coming from.

[22:42:26.717] Holy Paladin Divine Light Fury Warrior +30777
[22:42:26.993] Holy Paladin Protector of the Innocent Holy Paladin +*826* (O: 5877)
[22:42:27.412] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 18147) — from the DL
[22:42:27.756] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 3952) — from the PotI

[22:42:28.535] Holy Paladin Holy Shock Kitty +*4418* (O: 10545)
[22:42:29.067] Holy Paladin Protector of the Innocent Holy Paladin +4162 (O: 198)
[22:42:29.367] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 7793) — from the HS (1 HP)
[22:42:29.736] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 2571) — from the PotI

[22:42:30.686] Holy Paladin Enlightened Judgements Holy Paladin +*0* (O: 4414) — judgement
[22:42:31.519] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 2602) — from EJ

[22:42:32.532] Holy Paladin gains 1 from Holy Paladin’s Blessed Life — 1 HP

[22:42:35.419] Holy Paladin Holy Light Hunter +12396
[22:42:35.847] Holy Paladin Protector of the Innocent Holy Paladin +5310
[22:42:36.054] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +6198 — from HL
[22:42:36.537] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +2505 — from PotI

[22:42:36.537] Holy Paladin Holy Shock Hunter 2 +10011 — 1 HP
[22:42:37.116] Holy Paladin Protector of the Innocent Holy Paladin +4987
[22:42:37.591] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +2420 (O: 2586) — from HS
[22:42:37.926] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +0 (O: 2352) — from PotI

[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn Enhancement Shaman +0 (O: 8401)
[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn Ret Paladin +7402 (O: 955)
[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn Fury Warrior +0 (O: 8596)
[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn DK Tank +*12149*
[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn Rogue +8935 (O: 928)
[22:42:39.400] Holy Paladin Light of Dawn Frost DK +8300
[22:42:39.813] Holy Paladin Protector of the Innocent Holy Paladin +0 (O: 5272)
[22:42:40.250] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +4200 — from LoD
[22:42:40.250] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +4178 — from LoD
[22:42:40.250] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +4055 — from LoD
[22:42:40.250] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +4109 — from LoD
[22:42:40.250] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +4150 — from LoD
[22:42:40.688] Holy Paladin Beacon of Light DK Tank +2487 — from PotI

Over ~13 seconds, the paladin did a lot of healing to the raid and did about 86k in healing to the beacon target, a DK tank.

This is how it broke down, via timestamps:

22:42:27: 22099 — Big chunk from a DL beacon
22:42:29: 10364 — small
22:42:31: 2602 — smaller
22:42:36: 8703 — small
22:42:37: 7358 — small
22:42:40: 12149 (direct LoD heal) + 23179 — huge

So while it was “only” about 86k to the tank, he healed a lot of raid members, too.

Meanwhile, this is what my ~13 seconds looked like:

[22:42:28.083] Madrana Holy Light Prot Pally +*3433* (O: 14287)
[22:42:28.524] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +*0* (O: 6877)
[22:42:29.367] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +0 (O: 3438)

[22:42:30.688] Madrana Holy Shock Prot Pally +0 (O: 8780) — 1 HP
[22:42:31.021] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +0 (O: 4163)
[22:42:31.717] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +0 (O: 2082)

[22:42:34.200] Madrana Divine Light Prot Pally +2801 (O: 26806) — 1 HP
[22:42:34.200] Madrana Holy Shock Prot Pally +0 (O: 8787) — 1 HP
[22:42:34.643] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +*7077*
[22:42:35.419] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +3538

[22:42:36.902] Madrana Light of Dawn Madrana +7240
[22:42:37.116] Madrana Light of Dawn Resto Shaman +8038
[22:42:37.116] Madrana Light of Dawn Fire Mage +6838
[22:42:37.116] Madrana Light of Dawn Shadow Priest +7013
[22:42:37.116] Madrana Light of Dawn Moonkin +*10750*
[22:42:37.591] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +*6355*
[22:42:37.591] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +3620
[22:42:37.926] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +3705
[22:42:37.926] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +3625
[22:42:37.926] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +3717
[22:42:37.926] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +5697
[22:42:38.238] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +0 (O: 3177)

[22:42:40.250] Madrana Divine Light Prot Pally +21437 (O: 9401)
[22:42:40.688] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +0 (O: 4278)
[22:42:41.510] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Pally +0 (O: 2139)

130470 healing to my beacon target in ~13 seconds, broken down this way:

22:42:29: 21158 — big
22:42:31: 10862 — small
22:42:35: 41932 — huge
22:42:38: 23541 — big
22:42:41: 32977 — huge

So while my heals on my beacon target, a paladin tank, were generally bigger and more regular than my fellow holy paladin’s heals, I also didn’t really do a lot of raid healing. In fact, I’m sure that if you add it all up, he did more healing than I did in that span, especially because a lot of my heals overhealed my tank.

You can see that these are two distinct styles with different focuses. There are different specs for them, different glyphs and it changes how you generate holy power.

So, what does this Light of Dawn/Beacon of Light change mean?

It means that Method 2, which is beaconing a target like a tank and going to town on the raid, becomes a lot less viable. Light of Dawn was that guaranteed big, instant heal. 20k, easily, as long as people were in front of you and you had three stacks of holy power. You really need that extra oomph to help steady out your beacon target. If you could time it well so that just as soon as your target needs that hit, you had that 3 charges of holy power and were properly placed to maximize the number of people Light of Dawn would hit, you were golden. My fellow holy paladin is AWESOME at this and that’s why I put him on the raid and assign him a beacon target and I balance the healing on that target knowing how good he is at getting that LoD to go off at the right time.

With this change, I COULD continue to have him on the raid, but would have to compensate for the lack of big heals from LoD. It would probably be easiest to stick him on a tank full time, which I don’t think he’d like very much. (We’ll talk about it, buddy!)

So can paladins still raid heal?

Eh. Kind of? There’s no excuse not to pick up Tower of Radiance and Eternal Glory now, since our use of Word of Glory should skyrocket since we’re not going to be using our holy power on Light of Dawn very much anymore.

If your paladin is good at using Holy Radiance and is willing to make sure they’re raid-healing using Word of Glory (which will still transfer to the beacon) and direct heals, there’s no reason they can’t raid heal, but I can’t help but think that all priests are better at it than paladins are, with Prayer of Healing, plus Circle of Healing and Sanctuary. Druids can use Wild Growth more frequently now and get extra healing via their mastery by layering Rejuvenation on top of Wild Growth, not to mention, they have Efflorescence. And then shaman are still able to use Healing Rain and Chain Heal… it’s going to be a tough job to raid heal going forward without relying on Light of Dawn for those little spikes on the raid and the cumulative effect on the tanks.

I would be more inclined to put holy paladins on the tanks, but a good player should be able to still raid heal. It’ll just be more difficult.

Any ideas for how to fix paladins, if, indeed, you think they’re broken?

I’m not a numbers person. I don’t look at the healing meters and go “ZOMG I R GUD” if I happen to top them. (Which rarely happens because I’m focused on my tank.) If I did my job, I’m satisfied and my job will mostly consist of healing a tank. I like that job and I feel I’m still able to do it.

However, removing this more dynamic style of healing is going to suck. Why even bother to cast Light of Dawn now? The healing it provides is pretty low at 6-8k a person. With 130k or so raid-buffed, even 10k hits aren’t all that huge. Part of the fun of being a paladin in early Cataclysm was the ability to help out on the raid while healing the tank or helping out on the tank while healing the raid. It seems as though we will be able to do one or the other, but not both — and we’re heavily slanted towards single-target healing with our current spells.

What I would do:

- Restore Holy Light’s Holy Power generation via Tower of Radiance: More holy power to use leads to more LoD use, even if it doesn’t benefit the beacon any longer.
or
- Restore Light of Dawn’s power back up to its level before it got nerfed in terms of strength (either 40 or 60%, I can’t keep all these numbers straight): A stronger LoD means we won’t NEED to cast it as often to still help out on the raid.
or
- Lower the cooldown (and possibly slightly lower the mana cost) of Holy Radiance: If Holy Radiance is used more often, we won’t need to keep trying to use up holy power in order to help out on the raid.
or
- Give us a mastery that actually doesn’t suck.
or
- Chuck Beacon of Light and Light of Dawn and completely redesign the Holy tree in a way that makes us WANT to spend points in it: No details on this because I don’t even know what I’d like to see. I do know that when I look at resto druid trees and holy priest trees, I get jealous, because I can see where it’s an actual choice to pull points from their main trees and put them in disc/shadow or feral/balance. I resent having to spend 31 points in the holy paladin tree and would go another 5 points deep in ret if I could (without losing my 5 in prot). I feel like I should want to drop as many points in holy as possible and really have to make a tough choice to drop talents into prot or ret.

That’s all my opinion, mind you.

But wait! Kurn, what’s this about a Conviction nerf?! Two nerfs in one day?

Sadly, this is true. Holy Radiance crits no longer trigger Conviction. This will lead to less uptime on Conviction, which leads to lower healing overall. Granted, even in 346-level gear, I had about 80% uptime on Conviction. Nowadays, I have about 90% uptime on it and I don’t abuse Holy Radiance on cooldown, so I don’t expect to see too much of a difference in my overall numbers due to this.

Crappy day to be a holy paladin?

So what else is new?

The funniest thing about all this is that when Holy Light was changed to no longer grant holy power through Tower of Radiance, Nethaera was like:

It is intended that Protector of the Innocent and Light of Dawn transfer healing through Beacon of Light. Furthermore, we didn’t feel that changing either of those would have fixed the problem.

(Source: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/1532043235?page=70#1386)

Yeah. You guys got some ‘splainin’ to do.